Debenhams stores to close – including Westwood Cross – after sale to Boohoo agreed

Former Debenhams site at Westwood Cross

The Debenhams store at Westwood Cross looks set to close after confirmation that the ailing chain has been bought by fashion retailer Boohoo.

The £55m sale means the closure of the remaining 118 Debenhams outlets with goods being sold online only by Boohoo from early 2022..

Some stores may reopen when covid trading restrictions are lifted but it is not clear how long this will be for.

An acquisition statement by Boohoo says: “The Group intends to rebuild and relaunch the Debenhams platform, helping further the Group’s stated ambition to lead the fashion eCommerce market, and grow into new categories including
beauty, sport and homeware.”

It adds: “In order to allow for the winding down of Debenhams’ operations, Debenhams will continue to operate its website for an  agreed period before the relaunch on the Group’s platform and a licence has been granted to allow
for the winding down of Debenhams’ retail stores (when they are in a position to re-open) for an additional period.

“The Transaction will be financed through the Group’s existing cash balance, which stood at £386.9m on 31 December 2020. The Group will only be acquiring the brands and associated intellectual property rights – the Transaction does not include Debenhams’ retail stores, stock or any financial services.”

In December rescue talks for the brand with JD Sports collapsed.

It is understood the JD Sports withdrawal was due to Arcadia – which has also collapsed – being a main concession operator at the stores.

That left Debenhams facing the prospect of being wound down with the loss of some 12,000 jobs.

The company had already closed a number of outlets and cut more than 6,000 staff last year.

The collapse of Arcadia – responsible for stores such as Top Shop – put 13,000 jobs at risk.

Talking of the sale to Boohoo Geoff Rowley, joint administrator for Debenhams and partner of FRP Advisory, said: “We are pleased to have secured the future for this great brand, and to have created the opportunity for a new Debenhams-branded business to emerge in a different shape beyond the pandemic.

“I expect that the agreement with Boohoo may provide some job opportunities but we regret that this outcome does not safeguard the jobs of Debenhams’ employees beyond the winding-down period.”

Debenhams has been one of the anchor businesses at the Westwood Cross shopping centre since it first opened in 2005. The other anchor store is M&S.

10 Comments

  1. They are all shutting because the new owner plans to go 100% online. I wonder if the building could be converted to provide the large Health Centre promised for the area. It would be an ideal location with good facilities for staff and a pharmacy very close for the patients. A better location than the one I think is currently planned behind the Saga offices. In the future I think we are going to have to consider more of a mixed economy for some of these large retail parks.

    • On the face of it an extremely boring idea from Avril, but we are at a point now where no retail chains will be looking for a premises this size. Times and habits are changing fast

  2. Why is that a boring idea? Isn’t it just a practical solution meeting a current need – and avoiding another new build on agricultural land? As you say, it is extremely unlikely that any retailer will want the building and eating and entertainment have similarly taken a hit and will take some time to recover. I’m interested in what ideas you would have? An empty building in that location wouldn’t be a good image and might impact adversely on Westwood.

  3. Most likely will be a new ‘art/cultural hub’ maybe they can play tape recordings of various people saying this is not here, or something equally pretentious like they are doing at the Primark site.

  4. Westwood Cross?

    Bulldoze the lot! Shop online, no need for health clinics, consultations on available on line. Replace with green space, we need trees and plants! Save the planet…

  5. No more arty farty guff at westwood please. There is enough at the Turner, and Tracy Emin opening her dirty works up in the old printing shop soon.
    A medical centre is needed in a central location so that would be fine if it goes through as it’s a commercial centre really. As long as development stays brownfield and not on agricultural land in Thanet, but TDC planners just allow houses and flats galore without taking local residents into account.

  6. A cental medical centre would be amazing but that shop should stay a shop i don’t know what exactly but we have lost enough shops already. Shoping online is OK but going g out and shopping is so much better can see what your getting in real life and try things on

  7. The Range could move into Debenhams Wicks is going anyway which leaves Curry’s pc world they are relocating to Canterbury and Ashford and all the units will be empty next to Tesco’s ready for the new Ika store so watch this space.

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